Friday, February 21, 2014

Soviet Snowmen Study, Part Two.

Today here is a minimalist look into monograph #2 of the 4-volume set above that we introduced last time. To briefly remind: these are four very rare booklets containing information about a Soviet data-gathering committee's work on "wildman" possibilities in the Central Asian and China area, done in 1958-9. The monographs were published in 1959, and found their way to Ivan Sanderson's SITU Archives. He used them in preparation of his famous book. My esteemed European correspondent Theo Paijmans has informed me that these things were published in only about 100 copies, and, with likely attrition over the years, these are probably one of a very small number of sets left. Theo has asked me if I can scan them for the greater good, and I can't. If any of you out there want to come to Kalamazoo and do the scanning, I will be happy to open my doors for that.

My status so far, dwelling in these documents, is that I cannot read #1, since its translation in Ivan's notebook files is by Heuvelmans and only in French, and so I've begun with #2 [not a problem as these things are rather robotically assembled pieces of information "as they came" to the Committee with little analysis.]

So, I've finished #2 and will give you an idea with crude analysis of its contents now. Later, I have a few other words to say about this stuff; and then I'll close to go back to #s 3 and 4 for presenting to you in later postings as I can.

What did they find? [illustration is of the famous Bhutan ABSM stamps set, just to give you something pretty to look at.]

The booklet is broken up into 38 units of information, which represent pieces of data: interviews, letters, notes from lectures, extracted information from books. Sometimes within these pieces more than one incident, fable, or claim exists. It is almost impossible to decide whether to count certain things at all, but, idiosyncratically, I've decided that there are about 59 information bits here.

MUCH of those 59 are what we anomalies researchers would regard as extremely low-grade ore. In fact, there are almost no claims in booklet #2 which are really impressive. The way that the claims rise to something more than idle rumor is due to their accumulation, not their stand-alone strength. This "accumulation" has a bit more substance than it otherwise might, due to the extreme separation of the informants, and the apparent naivete of some of the people interviewed.


The things which are fairly universal in what they seemed to find are pretty much what we've come to assume to be true about this possible entity: The entity has a humanoid form, is bipedal, is naked, is covered with body hair, but with a "clean face." One could almost assume that these booklets created or at least fixed the general image for Almas, Wildman, Gul-Biavan, and all the other endless names.

Height surprised me a little. Firstly, less than half mentioned height at all. I have an itching suspicion about this. If the reporter didn't mention height, then there may have been nothing unusual about the height. This suspicion would be supported by the fact that in the 25 incidents where height was mentioned, 14 were normal human-sized in stature, and 9 were slightly taller. The two remaining cases were a long-distance estimation of a seven-footer through binoculars, using nearby plants for a yardstick, and a giant monster akin to the Amerindian Windigo creature folklore. When one adds to this the fact that a typical Mongolian male is about a little over five foot-to-five-and-a-half feet tall, few if any of Booklet #2 encounters may have been with anything over six-foot-tall.

Aggression: almost all reports that mentioned this said "no", not aggressive. Most said things like secretive or won't let you get too close. There were exceptions, of which I have my doubts. A few claims had a strong folk tale character about the female Almas being a threat to steal your baby, or the male being ready to steal a young girl for a wife. These steal-a-wife tales were accompanied by her having one or more babies, escaping or being let go after several years, returning "home" just to respond to "his" siren cry in the woods and leave again. Very folkloric.

One tale said the female monster liked to kill and drink blood --- so much for that.

Two tales from different areas in the Pamirs, had the Gul-Biavan come into a campfire area or a farm, and a big wrestling match ensued IN WHICH THE HUMAN WAS STRONGER AND WON. So much for giant size.....

As you probably see, my confidence in these odd tales of aggression is low. Any animal or man could be pushed into aggressive action, but I don't see that in this volume.

Hair Color: a variety though not all over the map. Most of the reports mentioning color have it as "dark" mainly brown, with almost no one saying specifically black. There is a gray strain in the reports, sometimes all over, sometimes like aging gray. And there is a bit more "reddish" reporting than I would have guessed.

Diet: almost everyone who talks of this says "small animals and meat." The creature will eat things it killed or "mountain roadkill" it finds. There are stories of it coming into a camp and accepting a cooked piece of goat [or whatever], but one story claimed it refused the roasted meat but accepted the raw.

Supplementing its carnivorous nature, a few reporters said [quite interestingly to me] that the Almas/ Gul-Biavan liked to kick over stones and grab the larger insects which lived beneath them. I thought it a correlation which wouldn't necessarily have been expected. Other folks spoke of "vegetable diets" without specificity.

A few additional things of who-knows-what significance: As the tales accumulated a trickle of cases began to show up wherein the creatures stunk badly --- not a lot, but a late trend in the booklet. One encounter was replete with footprints, and for a change, the reporter took a detailed look at them. He noticed an exceptionally large big toe, which might support Shipton's print [the report didn't say that, I did]. Also late in booklet #2, there was a small trend stating that the creatures walked "bent." I'd be careful of things like that, if only because the lead committee member was very interested in proving things about pre-humans and their "lifestyles" and ultimate ends, and the [erroneous] image of the Neanderthal was of a bent walker.

A last warning here: the word "gul-biavan" was very prominent in these reports, much more so than Almas, or the nearly non-existent Yeti ["yeti" precursors like MI-GE, MI-TE etc DID show up more]. The point here is that the locals called several sorts of animals "gul-biavan" most notably monkeys.

I've come away from this foray with a couple of understandings, I think. The first is that Sanderson seems to be the only English-language author to use this resource. He clearly used it as his notebook shows. He didn't exhaust it, because, I think, he like me saw that the translation still presented difficulties in understanding and mapping everything, and maybe it was best to just cherry-pick the best stories and integrate them as illustrations of what else he knew. Ivan was definitely a cherry-picker with this.

I looked at some other likely abominable snowman books, things like Izzard's thing, and more so Tchernine' In Pursuit of the Abominable Snowman, and Myra Shackley's Still Living. Both Tchernine and Shackley seemed prime possibilities for using this resource. Both apparently knew that something had happened with Porshnev's Committee, but neither seems to have used these booklets. Shackley knew about the Committee due to reading other writings of Porshnev, but not these monographs.

That made me wonder a bit too. Because Shackley's book so smoothly integrates with what I have read here, a strong aura of authenticity of research quality "in the field" resonates within it. I'm not usually a person who comes down on the "missing pages in the biological textbook" camp of cryptozoology [leaning to the paranormal usually, as you folks know] but this business looks like a very possible case of a relict population to me.

But, I believe, that one of the most likely environments for this relict survival is now gone.

Because of the concurrent Pamir expedition [which it turns out Porshnev himself was on], there is quite a lot of commentary about wildman legends/ rumors/ encounter tales from that region. Alongside some of the mountain ridges run rivers, wherein several wildman tales are placed. Some of these mountain are well vegetated and could support top predators high up the slopes. One river which showed up with favorable descriptors [I was impressed anyway] was the Kara-Balta. This begin to acquire a feeling for me of "ground zero."

Because I was becoming enamored of Kara-Balta as a potential Almas site, I went to good ole Google Maps to see if I could find it. Find it I did. Here in 2014 there are people and even roads everywhere. Cities exist; modern cities. How in the heck did THAT happen?

It ain't pretty.

At precisely the same time that the Moscow field workers were exploring the Pamirs, Uranium was discovered there --- sort of makes you wonder "who all" was on that mission and who paid for it, doesn't it? Well, you can fill in the blanks. The Kara-Balta area had just a little bit of Rubles poured into it and became the Soviet Union's #2 source of uranium for the Cold War.

Let's weigh this out: Uranium for nuclear bombs vs ecological space for relict populations? Hmmmmm. What would Stalin choose??

Now the mining has mainly stopped, leaving behind a thoroughly messed up environment and a large population trying to shift over [to Oil, I believe.] If Myra Shackley's neanderthal Almas were there in 1960, I doubt that they lasted long.

Somewhere else? Southwestern China? Maybe.

Now if Yeti looked like this, maybe we could get a Panda Campaign thing going.

Till next time, Peace, folks.

Monday, February 17, 2014

SNECHNOMA CHELOUEKE or something like that.

Well, so there you have it!

Have what, you say? Yep, same thing that I said. {Some of you out there might recognize what these are, but I wager not many}.

I was glancing at the Sanderson Archive stacks and there sat these four Russian-language monographs. Employing my usual zero-comprehension-of-non-English, I of course had no clue. Brilliant Sherlock Holmes quality inspection revealed the words " Committee on Informational Material for Investigating the Problem of the ABSM." That and the designators indicating that three of these publications were owned originally by Bernard Heuvelmans, George Agogino, and Tom Slick, pushed my feeble analytical abilities to the conclusion that these were Russian collections of Yeti/Almas information, and possibly used by Ivan in his famous book.

Well, OK. It's always nice to feel that one is holding a little piece of Cryptozoological history, but if I can't read it, that's as far as it goes. Fortunately for me [and maybe you] neither could Ivan.

Ivan knew that this was a big deal for him [I'd venture as guess that it was even a major inspiration for him deciding to write his masterpiece] and therefore was desperate for someone to translate for him. Heuvelmans sent him the first of the monographs and appears to have translated it himself --- BUT INTO FRENCH. Ummm... I'm screwed again. Weirdly, so, to a degree was Ivan [I say this because he's very labored about what he extracts from monograph #1].

My salvation came when I spotted a typical "Ivan Notebook" entitled: "ABSMs: USSR ACAD. SCI. BOOKLETS #1 to #4 AND ANALYSIS." Inside were the Heuvelmans French translation of #1, but, The Lord Be Praised!, English translations of the other three volumes. So maybe I could have a little fun afterall.

What I want to do here, since this turns out to be a bit of a reading, logging, thrashing about grind, is to blog an overview of what I'm reading so far in monograph #2 [remember I can't read Heuvelmans' French], and sort-of promise/hope to do a better job of presenting "case studies" sometime later.

What seems to have happened here is that in about 1958 [three years before Ivan published his big book], some Russians got so fired up about the enigma of the purported "wildmen" of Central Asia that they set up a committee in Moscow to collect information. The committee was headed by Dr. B.F. Porshniev [or Porshnev] [pictured above] and A.A. Shmakov. Porshnev seems to have been lead dog, and became a Sanderson correspondent at least to send Ivan book #4 ultimately.

Collecting of information was widespread: some done at headquarters with visitors, some of roads trips as far away as Mongolia, and some by letters and expedition reports. There was, simultaneously with the 1958-1959 period of information gathering, a Soviet expedition to the Pamir Mountains region in Kirghiz, and the committee had a lot of cooperation from this expedition, rather loading the "data" density towards that area, as well as I can see so far. [yeh I know that I shouldn't just plough into this before reading the whole thing, but if I don't I might never do it --- so let's just explore together and be surprised].

This is the "Cliffnotes" version of what the committee seems to be finding as of monograph #2: "wildmen" may be a single type of humanoid but may be more than one thing. Areas of suspicious richness of reporting and/or story telling exist. Primary of these seems to be the desert and mountain wilds of the Uygurit region of Xinjiang. [the spellings of the areas, villages, mountain passes, and local names for the beasts are a nightmare. It is very difficult to have confidence in some of this, and is why I believe Ivan short-shrifted the "data analyzing" here and never made a complete list of what the committee found.]

The presence of the expedition to the Pamirs also produced the feeling that the Pamirs were a focus site for potential continued existence of wildmen. A trickle of case reports along the Tibetan side of the Himalayas pointed to that area as a third possible hot zone. If one continued to follow the Marco Polo road to the East. one would enter the semi-legendary province of Shensi {Shaanxi}, home of the mysterious pyramids and the Xian terracotta warriors. From Xian, extending directly west, is a lengthy mountain range [the Tzinlin-Shan in the terms of this monograph] wherein a Chinese professor insisted that wildmen still existed.

Other tales dotted about the region. In China, the idea was that if one continued south of Shensi, one would enter the mountains of Sichuan and Yunnan, and the further one went into those mountains the more likely wildmen persisted. This intrigued me as this is prime location for the Rhododendron forests of southwestern China, wherein not only Yeti was supposed to live, but where romantics placed Shangri-la.

The last map-like thing that I want to comment about today is why I have a circle in the big desert marked "Tarim mummies". This may have no relevance to any of this or it might.

Porshnev interviewed the Director of the Nepalese museum who said that they had photographs of a "snowman child". The story went that a wealthy man in Katmandu had acquired a snowman child in mummified form. No comment was made as to where this mummy was found. The man brought the mummy to the museum, left it there briefly, during which time it was at least photographed. He then retrieved the mummy and it was never heard about since. The photographs reveal a baby, 8-10" long, male, dark skin, hairless, somewhat sunken eyesockets, somewhat elongated arms. The director's opinion was that it was neither monkey nor human.

This thought occurred to me: somewhere around 1960 or so, the academic world of the Soviet Union began getting interested in mummies said to exist in the central area of the Takla Makan Desert. The ultimate hullaballoo about these mummies is that they seem not to be oriental in body type, but rather European like. But that is not why the thought came up here.

I can readily imagine that if academe finally focussed on desert mummies in the 1960s, the locals knew about some of this decades earlier. Could some entrepreneur have carried a mummified Tarim baby, stillborn?, to Katmandu and sold it to a wealthy collector of arcane artifacts? It could, perhaps, explain a rather odd "data point" in this story.

This is a Tarim culture mask. What does it represent? I do not know of course. Looks pretty awesome to me... spirit creature? Wildman?

These Tarim people lived a long time ago, perhaps as deep into the past as 1800 BC. They were significantly taller than the locals also, which brings up another thought. And they gradually died out, perhaps as their ecology dried up.

Many concepts arise from this. Could some wildmen stories be the old knowledge of a tall and very different sort of people dwindling away? Could those people have retrogressed to cruder states of living as their surroundings became less hospitable? Or could the Tarim, just like everyone else in the region, have known of the wildmen and told stories of them and represented them as awesome creatures, just as an Amerindian living on the Pacific coast would? That mask brings back strong memories of the masks of the Kwakiutl people and their neighbors.

i'm going to stop here. I'm going to TRY to get through the entire monograph #2 and do something which presents the committee "data" such as it is --- these things are just one anecdote after another, and no synthesis by them.

... but that must come later and the future is cloudy.

Till then, Peace.

Monday, February 10, 2014

One Small Trip with Ivan

I was putting things in slightly better order the other day and focussed on the notebook above. It had been "seen" before of course, but without any consciousness. That day the thought occurred: "Ivan doesn't seem to have been at all 'spiritual' really. Wonder why he even bothered to have a notebook on ghosts?"

The page-through look inside showed quickly that indeed he was NOT much interested. The notebook is relatively thin and has little that I, at least, consider substantial. The main thing there was his draft of a book chapter he later published in More Things, which is worth retelling shortly "down the page".

The intriguing "Spectral Ships" consists of only a chapter from a book, and the articles that were published by Larry Arnold in PURSUIT are at least as good [and have been covered here already]. The "doppelgänger" section was one letter from a reader and a reply sending it to Berthold Schwarz.

Generally speaking, what interested me was that not everything in the notebook was put there by Ivan. I always viewed these as his files and his alone, but I have to revise that a bit. I know this because there ARE a couple of handfuls of paste-ins about ghosts/ poltergeists BUT they are almost all in the couple of years after he died. The way that I'm going to rationalize this is to believe that once Ivan founded SITU, he "transferred" his files TO SITU as one of the resource foundations of the organization, and for a brief while during his illness and after someone [probably Marion Fawcett] might glue some incoming things in there. This may seem trivial, but it is worth keeping in mind for the researcher. These posthumous add-ins were uniformly low credibility articles out of the National Enquirer.

But there were, as I said, a thing or two else wise in the file which might be interesting to you, both in itself and because Ivan placed it there.

The main thing will be about the event associated with the chapter that Ivan wrote to conclude the book More Things.

It concerns a time well before the SITU dream, when Ivan and his first wife were in Haiti collecting biological specimens on a grant. They lived in a nice residence nearby Port-au-Prince with a friend who spoke the Haitian dialects, and had housekeeping people looking out for their welfare, most important of whom was a lady who took matronly concern for Ivan's wife. This was a fine lady who happened to be a practitioner of Vaudun, a benign strain of what we call Voudou, aimed mainly at healing. None of that Ivan gave any credence to, but the lady, as he said, tolerated him because she liked his wife.

This lady seemed to have an uncanny knack of knowing if Ivan and his wife would be home for dinner when they were out on one of their field trips or an excursion into the city. When they arrived "on time" for supper, supper would be there on the table. When they would be seriously late, supper would have long been put away and the house ready for retirement. [and the supper actually shared and eaten by the house servant group]. Ivan never thought much about this except for being amused.

There came a time when Ivan and his wife and their friend were on a trip into the sort-of-nearby desert, driving their car, when it got quagmired in a basin filled with rapid run-off and mud from a flash storm. There was nothing to do but get out and walk. This had two dangers: local people hated "different" people, and often bad things happened for seemingly no reason when interactions occurred. Secondly, they were a very long walk away from getting any help. Some of the first happened, but their friend talked the locals away. That left just the grind.

The friend was more fit, and walked well ahead to intercept any new local group to attempt to dissuade them from mayhem. Ivan and his wife trudged behind. Thoroughly exhausted and just putting one foot in front of another, Ivan saw up ahead what seemed to be a town. As he approached, it resolved to be something very much like a street in late medieval or renaissance Paris. He stumbled into the street between the buildings when his wife remarked her surprise and said something to the point of: "How did we get to medieval Paris?"

There was no one else in the street, but they sat down on a benchstone or low wall to rest and marvel. Sometime later, their friend turned back to come look for them. He came and sat next to them and offered them a cigarette. When his lighter struck and then extinguished, the Sandersons found themselves sitting on the desert sand with their friend with no 500-year-old Paris anywhere. The friend had seen none of it.

This event haunted Ivan a bit all his life. He never came to any grips whatever with this, what he called, "shared hallucination." Unbelieving in any spiritual element to the mind, the idea that this could be "psychic" refused to gain any foothold. His later buddy, Berthold Schwarz, however, would have immediately gone right there.

The aftermath of this anomaly had its own oddness. After quite a delay getting back the rest of the way home, the Sandersons found that their housekeeper/Vaudun lady had precisely anticipated both the time of their arrival and the needs of their unusual conditions --- soothing baths, clean clothes, and a very late supper were all waiting. Ivan tried to press the lady on how she "knew", but she wouldn't say anything.

All he ultimately got was a comment from a younger man who worked with the lady as part of the staff. He said: "You saw things didn't you? You don't believe it, but you could always see things if you wanted to. We know, and we were watching you. We have always watched you, and, although you are foreigners, we feel you are good people." {these, Ivan said, are his condensations of the younger man's words}.

Ivan fought the possibility of belief in the psychic/ spiritual world. I think that it was because he just couldn't allow himself to get involved with paths of thinking which [by definition] could never have any chance of "physical proof."

He had a long insightful talk with Richard Grigonis in about 1970 or so, which is published on Grigonis' website. In that transcript Sanderson says: "{Charles} Fort does not deal in mystical things: The Occult, ghosts, all this kooky stuff. Rather he deals with things like this ashtray, which you can get your hands on." He said that he doesn't doubt people's honesty or their stories about things like that, they just don't interest him. As to SITU: "We're not against science on the one hand, and we're not against the mystics on the other. We're right in the middle. We're a different group of people. We're entirely pragmatic."

.........well, maybe. The entirety of SITU certainly wasn't, so that comment was only clearly accurate if Ivan was using the "Royal" we.

.........and even for Ivan...... he DID have a "Ghosts" file [thin as it was], and he DID put a walloping good mysterious personal event in there, which probably 90% or more of his readers would have interpreted as either "psychic" or "no conceivable explanation."

Stuck late into the file, a National Enquirer article from just about the time of Ivan's death, spoke of an Irish village which believes that its lake has an island that emits ghostly lights when someone dies. On that island are the ruins of an ancient abbey, fallen down since the 1600s. Lights allegedly come from the monastery, float across the lake, pass homes, and then return. 250 people allegedly were on record as having seen them between about 1920 and 1970.

Would "they", if true, be tangible enough for Ivan?

Why cannot such matters be "Fortean" like any other mystery?

Peace and Warmth. .....  and Wonder.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

MIB: a small addition to a legend.

OK, I feel guilty [a little] presenting this to you, but maybe it will be "diverting."

The impulse for this post came the other day as I was going through all the CE2 "miscellany" files [that's everything with a physical effect which is not a "landing trace", an electromagnetic effect, nor a physiological effect], and when I came to a folder labeled "New Haven, CT, 1953", I thought it was empty. Looking in, only a picture of the local guy standing next to that Connecticut signboard with the hole in it was there.

I thought: "That's ridiculous. The whole story surrounding that sign impact business is around here somewhere, and my file has just one picture. Pathetic!" So I decided [guilt-ridden] to try to repair the file. My trashing around led back of course to Albert Bender, the International Flying Saucer Bureau, and the beginnings of the legend of the Men in Black. As I re-immersed in that craziness, it seemed that a little more of the story, possibly anyway, floated to the surface. So.... you're stuck with a choice: keep reading or head for brighter pastures.

What I'm going to do to make this as merciful as possible is to make a timeline of events. If this works, I hope that you'll see the emergence of some possibilities as to why the Men in Black concept occurred and grew.

April 1952: Albert Bender, newly energized saucer enthusiast and science fiction hobbyist, founds a small organization, The International Flying Saucer Bureau, IFSB, composed of himself and a few of his science-fiction friends. He announces that the purpose of the organization is to be a force for friendship between Earth and the Flying Saucer people so as to avoid a disastrous war.

July 19-20 and July 26-27, 1952: The two weekends of the "Washington Merry-go-Round" visits of UFOs over DC. These two events, embedded in the Wave of 1952, demonstrated that military experts in psychological warfare were correct, and the American public was in fact panic-prone and semi-hysterical.

July 28, 1952: President Truman hands this problem to the CIA and asks for a policy.
July 29, 1952: General Samford holds his famous press conference for damage control.

August 19, 1952: The Sonny Desverges "landing" case occurs. It is taken very seriously. It appears to have been an incident [regardless of how it's told] wherein the witness was injured somehow. Meanwhile, Bender and IFSB have grown to 100 members in 16 states. Bender, proving to be as fanatical about saucers as he was about science fiction and horror story fiction, is contacting persons around the country, and shortly around the world, eliciting their membership.

September 12, 1952: The Flatwoods, WV case [The Braxton County Monster] occurs. Gray Barker, who does not yet know Bender, is one of the primary investigators, and surprisingly is still serious at that stage and does a pretty good job. Barker's work here ultimately brings him to Bender's attention, and during the late part of the year communications will culminate in Barker accepting the position as Chief of Investigations for IFSB.

October 1952: Meanwhile, an ambitious Al Bender has been pushing forward and publishes his first volume of his UFO magazine, Space Review [SR from now on]. It was 12 pages and, to my eyes, the best looking thing yet out there on UFO news. Bender sent this to Eddie Rickenbacker, then President of Eastern Airlines, and Rickenbacker liked it and continued to receive it from Bender.

The publication was set up to receive new story reports from members, of whom 16 [15 across US states and one in Canada] had special designation as local focus people. Bender stated that IFSB would soon have focus individuals in Britain and France and Brazil. All commentary in the magazine was ET-Hypothesis related. In the editorial, Bender reveals a mind spinning with ideas most of them fairly sensible. He then says that he believes that we [the USA] have already sent a rocket to the Moon containing passengers under, obviously, the highest secrecy.

"In summing it up, it would be wise for the public to start turning its eyes and thoughts toward the heavens, because there is more danger lurking there than on the Earth itself."

November and December 1952: Bender is on a roll. He begins to add some folks whom he believes are young investigative muscle to IFSB. Augie Roberts [top] was a photographer who believed that he has photographed the best UFO pictures yet [you can look them up and decide if you want to believe him; Bender did]. Gray Barker [bottom] was actually, as said, in his productive early stage and had not yet become a cynic. Other folks joining [or about to] were Lonzo Dove, an astronomer [amateur, I believe, but not unintelligent], and Dominick Lucchesi, an engineer [and enigmatic in that he appears to actually have had a good engineering job, was smart, but capable of thinking pretty whacky things]. These four plus Bender became the IFSB "A-Team".

January 1953: IFSB has grown to 425 members with several residing in countries around the globe. Bender again re-iterated to the local press that his organization was begun to help humanity to avoid a future war. The magazine of IFSB appeared in its volume two this month. Within it were UFO reports from nine countries outside of the US. The formation of IFSB-UK was announced. A local sub-section for Indiana was announced. Contact with CSI-NZ was announced. On the quiet, Bender told Roberts that he was sending his photos to England, France, and Australia for analysis --- IFSB was growing like a weed patch.

Within the journal, Bender's editorial was all happy talk. The ubiquitous George Fawcett preached an overt message of extraterrestrialism complete with predictions of soon-to-occur landings and government cover-up. Other persons in the magazine tended to be right in step with this, and there was an strong undercurrent of interest in the Moon. Reverend S.L. Daw of Washington, DC, an investigator of the "Braxton County Monster", stated that in his opinion the West Virginia sightings [there were several claims] looked to him to be clearly related to constructs being envisioned [already applied?] by our scientists "in the attempt to shoot rockets to the Moon." He ended with: "The United States may be experimenting with something that the public is not aware of, and is doing its best to keep it secret." The SR was a well-done piece of print media, and appealed to a public starving for UFO news and speculation. It was at the point of becoming a force of sorts in this story, but still at the edge of the shadows. On the other side of the country, the aero-engineering-fueled CSI-LA was getting the press and the attention of the intelligence community.

Of course a little something else of significance was happening. President Truman's charge to CIA Director Smith had developed across the fall of 1952 into a showdown UFO meeting about future UFO policy. Naive people like Ed Ruppelt, Allen Hynek, and Dewey Fournet thought that this was to be a science-based assessment of UFO reality, but it was not. It was instead a security analysis of the phenomenon to serve as a basis for intel-handling and information-management from then on.

Everyone except the real insiders was deceived by this for a long time, mainly due to the nature of the participants of the infamous "Robertson Panel" of mid-January 1953. The featured characters were all elite physical scientists. This was entirely smoke. The secondary cast was predominantly "scientific intelligence operatives", engineers, and CIA personnel who "should be there". This also, other than plenty more smoke even from the manipulated naive "consultants", was assurance that both USAF and CIA turf was properly protected in the proceedings and conclusions.

But in the end, there may have been only one dominant figure in attendance. Not on the front page list of attendees, and only typed in as an afterthought on some versions of the meeting report, was the name Stefan Possony. Possony was the USAF Pentagon Intelligence Directorate's most influential expert on psychological warfare. He had an office and a project [The Special Studies Group] right in the office of the Director of USAF Intelligence itself. The Robertson Panel report swims its way across the UFO phenomenon adroitly saying almost nothing of consequence about what guys like Ruppelt and Hynek thought the panel was about. THEN it gets VERY specific about what to do to MANAGE THIS "PROBLEM".

There was, to our knowledge, only one psychological problem-manager in attendance: Possony.

Sticking with just the train of thought aimed at our current story, we know exactly what "Robertson" proposed: close monitoring of civilian UFO organizations judged to be potentially influential enough to impact large numbers of the American public. THESE ORGANIZATIONS ARE TO BE VIEWED AS CLEAR SECURITY ISSUES.

Two organizations were specifically named: CSI-LA which contained a totally out-of-the-closet UFO enthusiast in the German rocket wizard Walther Riedel [seen above], and Coral Lorenzen's Aerial Phenomenon Research Organization, still small and in Wisconsin, but growing across the planet just like IFSB. IFSB had not quite penetrated the consciousness of the intelligence community, but we know it would manage to do that as 1953 went on.

CSI-LA were "handled" by some USAF bullying by Ruppelt and a Colonel earlier, but mainly probably by "hints" to the aerospace companies of the LA area that the USAF would appreciate their engineers not publicly participating. The CSI-LA siege gun, Riedel, was handled by constant FBI surveillance of his public UFO talks beginning February 1953... what a coincidence. Both CSI-LA and Riedel faded from the scene in later 1953... a job well done.

Coral Lorenzen was a tougher cookie as we know. The USAF gave her a visit in June of 1953 in hopes of moderating her activity. Unfortunately they sent two of the worst choices they could have made to face The UFO Medusa. Pussycat Allen Hynek definitely wasn't up to the task, suggesting that she try to teach her readers astronomy with her bulletin, so that they could better correct their observational confusions, and semi-serious Bob Ollson [interim Blue Book chief at the moment] suggested holding back certain things in the cause of patriotism. Coral was polite but viewed the two of them as malfunctioning morons. She did at least include a requirement that members assert their anti-communist status in order to join.

There is a fairly believable story-rumor in the literature that after the tweedledum/tweedledee performance by Hynek and Ollson, the FBI convinced a worker in the APRO office to occasionally make a report to them about what she was doing. {don't ask me for my reference on this folks; I read this years ago, probably in some "private" Lorenzen letter to someone --- if somebody knows the exact source I'd like to get the citation}.

Meanwhile Bender is going along unaware of this bigger picture, but perhaps not totally so.

March 1953: Barker sends him his Flatwoods interviews on tapes and Bender replies: "I'll be afraid that one of the saucer people will be here to confiscate them anytime." Probably this was a jest, but with a soon-to-be paranoid like Bender you shouldn't assume too much.

Bender is pushing forward his SR magazine towards volume three in April of 1953. Much hullaballoo is going on about a photo by Augie Roberts [above right], which gets notice in SR and is published several places. This is to Bender one of the great proofs of the saucers. Bender is generally high-on-life at this moment and tries to get Augie Roberts to try some sound-induced technique whereby he claims to feel a "presence". During this same period, the slightly out-of-touch Bender writes the Department of Defense to alert them about how he has access to a great photo of a UFO. At a minimum this alerts the intelligence community that here was a "player" in the public UFO game.

April 1953: Volume three of SR. As said, Bender brags up Roberts' photo. He describes it however in terms more suitable to the more famous "shiny coin" picture attributable to Roberts rather than the thing above. Who knows what went on. Bender was also delighted to mention that The Pope had just come out with a statement that Catholics are free to accept or deny the existence of intelligent dwellers on other planets, and that The Church was happy to let Science be the determiner of that. Barker asked for open-mindedness about the saucers, but said that our established religions could be threatened by landings with communication. Bender followed that up with "open-minded" words about the possibility that the recent Adamski/ George Hunt Williamson interaction with a space traveler could be true. A fellow named John Armitage from England pointed to HG Wells and Mars as having the likely solution to this, while Bender, in his editorial, stated that 1953 would be the greatest year in world history for spectacular displays of nature.

This last was odd. Saying that "There is something unusual taking place in this vast universe", he went on to claim vast climate and weather changes already happening. He then turned focus to the polar ice caps, claiming that their weight could cause the earth to capsize. This he said happened earlier causing the floods of the Bible. Frozen animals discovered under the snows only further proved this shifting of the poles of the Earth. 1953 finds the Earth particularly wobbly and this could be the year. Then he ends with:

*****" Saucers from other planets have been sighted more so now than at any other time in our history. The coming of the saucers may have to do with saving us from our horrible fate." *****

........can you say "paranoid about to go over to the Dark Side"???

Into mid-summer of 1953 we go. lots of folks were focussed on Mars.

July 1953: Space Review volume number four is out. Frank Scully is in. That is, Frank Scully joins IFSB. Also, Colonel Robert Emerson, the owner of a testing laboratory, joins as a technical expert. In the magazine, Lonzo Dove gives an extensive [for this magazine] report on the "flashes" seen on the surface of Mars, and how such flashes have [in his mind] signaled the approach of another wave of UFOs to Earth. Meanwhile Bender has been reading "interesting literature":

SIR magazine: "Did the Abominable Snowman come from Mars?"
Popular Science: "Does Anybody Live on Mars?"
FATE: "The Saucer and the Monster" {Barker on Flatwoods}
STAG: "He was burned by a Flying Saucer" {Desverges}
NIGHT and DAY: "Humans Fly in the Saucers"
HIS Magazine: "The Saucers are Spies from Mars"
SIR magazine: "Is Mars trying to Contact Us?"

He is still fascinated with Adamski and speculates in his editorial that in this vast universe God would have designed other intelligences to look like us. Edgar Jarrold from Australia chimed in with his information that his studies show that the saucers are connected to Mars. Begging to differ, a California member pointed out that there had been discovered a two-mile-long "glassy tunnel" on the Moon. This pointed to the likelihood that we ourselves or the Russians are already there. Meanwhile, new engineering consultant Dominick Lucchesi unloaded the news that the construction of a "navigable disk" is not only possible today by us, but that he knows how to do it and will shortly inform the readers exactly how.

Hmmm... let's see: ex-military technical lab man, theories about how humans could build their own saucers now, theories that we are already on the Moon, Frank Scully joining in, Threat of a new saucer invasion due to signals from Mars, pro-Adamski notions, members in most states and a network in other countries..... I wonder if the intelligence community could be at all interested?? Yeh, it's a tough call.......

August 19th, 1953: "something" never explained rips a gaping hole in a metal sign in New Haven, CT. One of the first guys on the scene?: Augie Roberts.

Roberts, by coincidence, was visiting a casually-organized but serious group of saucer enthusiasts in New Haven calling themselves SPACE [Saucer Phenomena And Celestial Enquiry]. He was up there "to trade saucer news". The event occurred while he was meeting with a friend and they went out to investigate the scene. This friend, Joseph Barbieri, is the fellow pictured standing next to the holed sign [and I'm assuming that Roberts was the photographer]. Several residents had heard the impact and at least one said she saw a streak of light pass her house. Residents gathered at the scene where smoke still rose from the hole and a disagreeable odor persisted. Police and firemen were also quick to the spot.

Roberts was able to inspect the hole quite closely and found metal not of the sign's make-up embedded in the hole. Using good old fashioned pliers, they pulled two pieces out --- the physical leavings of a mystery. Could it be from a UFO? With one witness speaking of streaking light, and a second of a red ball of fire, it seemed it actually could be. Roberts, the loyal IFSB member, sent both samples to Bender. Bender struck out with a local lab, but sent the pieces to Colonel Emerson for testing.

Let's cogitate: could the intel community have any interest in that?

Early September 1953: Bender is out of town for a while on some sort of Science Fiction fling. He is temporarily unavailable. But the FBI is restless. Gray Barker gets a visit from them. So does another IFSB stalwart, the Reverend S.L. Daw. Both Barker and Daw complain loudly to Bender about what the hell is going on? They are not pleased being interrogated by the FBI. [1953 too folks --- still pretty scary in Hoover and McCarthy Land].

It would be neater if the FBI were accusing Barker and Daw of something associated with the New Haven sign. They weren't. It would be at least sort-of sensible if they were accusing them of something associated with the Flatwoods Monster case --- and since Barker and Daw were the two IFSB guys who had researched that, maybe they were. But the FBI said that that were there to clarify Barker's and Daw's involvement with a certain "secret document" that was discovered and turned into them by a patriotic citizen. What the heck!?

Barker talks about this particular FBI business in great detail in his book. The tale he tells is probably accurate, but makes no sense. His FBI visit [and presumably Daw's] borders on the absurd --- the agent spending almost no time and talking about almost no content. Something else had to be going on. The word got around to Bender that some of this was catalyzed by Dominick Lucchesi misplacing an investigation report of IFSB's. This was the "secret" report Bender was worried about. According to Barker, the lost copy was of a routine photo analysis case, which even Roberts thought was bogus.

Again, this makes no sense.... The only way it MIGHT make sense is if the FBI was showing the key characters in IFSB that they were indeed being watched.

Very quickly, Bender got his own visit. To believe that these visitors were anyone else but Robertson-policy-inspired FBI agents stretches the imagination. Bender the latent paranoid has had just enough time to digest the FBI invasions of Barker's and Daw's lives, and knows that they are scrutinizing the IFSB's case investigations. HE IS BEING WATCHED!!

For their parts, the agents seem relatively benign in their behavior as far as is known. They show typical Robertson interest --- upon inspecting Bender's map with its array of pins locating all his members, they say: "God, but you're all over the place!!"

This visit as we know hit Bender hard. The government had come right into his home. His life had just gotten out of control. Why? He had plenty of possibilities, as we've seen, to stir up his head.

Space Review #5 was ready for printing basically and met its October deadline.

Prior to this publication, Bender had told the other insiders that he was quitting UFO research. They tried to get the story out of him, but he refused and got "shorter" with them as they persisted, finally refusing even to see them personally for a while. He was in full-blown paranoia. Why?

I doubt that anyone will ever confidently be able to say what went on in his brain, but there are a whole lot of thoughts that could have pushed him over. Bender had a complex stew of ideas which he seems not to have been able to process fully. Lucchesi was telling him that saucers, whether we make them or not, are using lines of magnetic force as propulsion. Scully is telling him the same thing. Earth's own magnetic field is in danger of failing and the poles shifting catastrophically. Plus we're exploding nuclear bombs in the atmosphere. In 1953 the USA series Upshot-Knothole blew eleven nukes in the American desert. What were these bombs doing? Were they blowing holes in our ionosphere, creating dangerous instabilities in Earth's magnetic protection? From Australia, Edgar Jarrold is telling him that the UFOs are here as a warning to us that we must turn towards pacifism to survive --- but there is no sign that we are doing so. His final editorial in SR #5 was entirely about us destroying ourselves with nuclear bombs.

In the Barker papers I found a fragmentary, enigmatic piece of paper very hard to read, but which sounds like Bender thinking. It mentions some catastrophe of the atmosphere which requires the human race [only the wealthy, the governmental, the big business,] to build vast underground living spaces to ride out the toxic period before emerging to attempt to recreate human civilization. The saucers somehow are to be involved in this transition from the world as it is now to the world to be, saving basically only the world economic underpinnings. Bender? Here is my "romantic?" speculation: Bender, in the end, really DID believe that we were already on the Moon preparing all the rich and influential guys their safe havens against the coming global catastrophe. The saucers were the signs of our power people leaving the rest of us behind to face the disaster.

Bender was in constant depression during the few conversations with people like Roberts and Lucchesi shortly after the closing of IFSB. He seemed to be saying to them that the saucers had something to do with "natural phenomena" --- acts of nature which portended worldwide doom.

So, OK. I have not completely solved the Bender Mystery. He had demons and how they came together in his mind is your guess. I say with some assurance though, that the mere fact that he was under FBI governmental watch, and "we weren't just playing kids games anymore", was plenty enough to unnerve him permanently.

... then again.... these "persons" are called the Martian Mandrills --- three persons --- black hairy suits --- hmmmm.............. the REAL reason behind the end of IFSB??

Peace, Joy, and no ionosphere-splitting H-bombs.